About the Author
In 1967, I came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ after watching a Billy Graham crusade on television. The absence of a gospel-preaching church during the following six years was detrimental to my spiritual well-being. Sin began to become a problem because growth did not occur through the ministry of the word.
In 1973, I reached out to the Billy Graham ministry out of an act of desperation. Living in sin was not an option to me as a born again Christian. Thoughts of suicide even crossed my mind during those dark days. I arranged an interview me with a minister at Calvary Baptist Church in Manhattan. After dealing with the sin problem, I began visiting and joined a church closer to home in Brooklyn, New York.
During the following days, Christianity became vibrant as the study of the Word of God became a source of life for me. Fellowship was abundant at that time of my life; people were giving, caring, and willing to share themselves without reservation. My wife became very involved as well, and she was found to be a very able partner. I attended the New York School of the Bible for two years and found it to be very fruitful in my life and spiritual education.
In 1977, we moved away to Western New York and attended Elohim Bible Institute where the president had been called back to the United States from years of missionary service in Sudan, Africa. The school was not so much about high academic ability but a well-rounded education. Education involved the study of the Bible and also Christian services in such ministries as jails, nursing homes, migrant camps, campsites, and rescue missions.
The president, Donald Perkins, made many lasting impressions upon me, but none were so fruitful as the one received on one very fate-filled day. Upon entering the chapel, what sounded like men talking turned out to be the president praying. By that time, I had attended many prayer meetings, many at church, and there was an early Sunday morning meeting at school that was mandatory for all the men. Praying is talking to God; however, until that day, I had never heard anyone speak to God the way he did. It was so personal, intimate, and passionate that you would think God was in the room. I felt as though I were intruding upon a private conversation. That was the day that got me into a mindset of intimacy with God that continues to the present, and no doubt will be even more real in eternity.
The next fifteen years were turbulent; they brought meaning and understanding of the term Spiritual Warfare. Today that term is usually reserved for charismatics that seem to live on the fringes of Christianity. When I refer to Spiritual Warfare, it is with the Biblical meaning found in such passages as Ephesians six. The fact remains that all but two books in the entire New Testament refer to demonic activity to one extent or another.
In 1995, I returned to the faith as I understood it at the very beginning. Much like the Church is returning to the Doctrines of Grace received at the Reformation. So I returned to a complete understanding of the Gospel.
To teach God's sovereignty as weak is to obscure the grace of God. I love the words of John MacArthur, who says, I have concerned myself with going deep into the word of God, and I leave the breath of my ministry up to Him. I desire to look deep into the heart of Christ, to know Him well so that I might express Him to others in a manner worthy of His grace.
If you see Jesus as He is meant to be seen, place your faith in the Jesus of the Bible, trust in him wholly with your mind, emotions, and will; then you will put your confidence in the right place. Your faith will become victorious, saving, appropriating, and activating faith. Nevertheless, YOU MUST SEE JESUS!
Sometime after the turn of the new millennium, I became aware that the Christian culture had changed, and passivity had turned into over-activity. In the early seventies, the buzz word was "let go and let God." So many of us following along like ignorant sheep, not wanting to indulge in self-effort and desiring to trust in God became passive in our decision making. Today there is an overemphasis on the spiritual disciplines.
Unfortunately, today's dilemma is a result of the pendulum swinging to the other side and placing an undue priority on the "means of grace" as if Christ were not the only means. However, the way I hear it explained is without the disciplines of Prayer, reading, evangelizing, fasting, etc., the actual means of grace (Christ) is made unavailable. It sounds correct, but it's not.
Jesus said, "I am the way...' There is no way to the way. Jesus is the way. Christ must come first, and the disciplines will naturally follow.
Tucked in the middle of these two extremes, I began to see a need for the just to live by faith. Faith is not passive for a passive faith is not faith at all, according to James 2. Neither is faith over-active because we are admonished to labor to enter into the rest of faith (Hebrews 4).